" Want a lift mate?"
“For sure mate, how far are you going?” I replied.
“Can take yer as far as Collie.”
I threw my bags into the back and climbed in beside the driver.
“Phew!! It’s hot out there!” I gasped wiping the sweat from my brow.
“Wait till we ‘ave some real ’ot weather mate, this’s just an average day!” He drawled." How far yer goin’?"
“Lightning Ridge, any buses or anything going out that way?”
“Buses? Ha ha, naw, the only thing what goes out there today is the mailman an’ ’es gone by now.”
“Is there much traffic on the road?” I asked starting to get a bit anxious.
“Well… not this time of the week, there’s a few cars around at the weekends, unless you want a taxi.”
“Depends how much it costs and how far.” I replied.
“Well its about fifty miles, pretty rough road too.” He replied as we finally pulled into town.
“If I drop you at the corner up ’ere yer might get a lift.”
“Thanks mate.” I said as I lifted my bags from the back of the Ute and
I watched as he turned and drove back into town in a cloud of dust.
Well, I stood there on the side of the road for nearly an hour without even a horse going past. In the end I gave up, counted my money and decided on a taxi, so, I hid my bags under a bush and tramped back to town where I found the taxi driver and asked him to drive me to Lightning Ridge.
Well, we arrived at lightning Ridge late in the evening to find a clutter of odd shaped shacks and a luna like landscape, I would like to point out that this was in the late fifties
“Where’s a place to stay driver?” I asked." Is there a hotel or boarding house or something here?"
“You’re got a choice mate, pub, or tram-o-tel. Which one?” He replied as we drove down what I took to be the main street, mainly because it had two shops in it.
“Well, I don’t know, what’s this tram-o-tel thing?”
“Tram-o-tel? It’s a sort of motel made out of old trams, couple of nice old people own it.”
“I think we’ll try it then.” We drove past a sign saying ‘POLICE’ and past a corrugated iron shed that boasted a sign that read ‘Lightning Ridge Memorial Hall’ then we pulled up next to what looked like a Sydney tram depot, and I’m not kidding.
“This’s it mate, just tell whoever yer see that Jack brought yer. Yer should be right then.” He said as he started to move off.
“Thanks a lot mate, I’ll buy you a beer when I’m in Collie.” I said as I paid him.
I walked into a small building that seemed to be the office and living quarters combined. There were opals in glass cases all along one side of the room, opals in the rough, opals cut and polished and opals in settings, also quite a few chip bottles which were small clear bottles with colourful chips of opal in them.
“Can I help you?” A woman’s voice asked from behind me.
“Wha!! Oh! Sorry, I was looking at the opals.” I said startled as I turned to look at the grey-haired old lady who stood in the doorway.
" I was wondering if you had any accommodation available? I’ve just came from Collie by taxi and need a place to stay, Jack the taxi driver said to mention his name and you would be able to help me."
“Yes, I think so, pay in advance though.” She said studying me closely." Are you on holidays or are you staying around?"
“It depends what happens.” I replied." How much is it?"
“Three quid a week, but you have to get your own meals, there’s a kitchen to every two trams.”
“Okay here’s a fortnights rent.” I said handing her the money." Oh, by the way my names Bob Murray."
“Just call me Debbie, come on follow me and I’ll show you your room.” she said and started out the door. We walked past one tram with a corrugated iron roof above it and I saw another one joined on to the kitchen.
“Yours will be this end and there’s the kitchen down there.” She said pointing to a fridge and fuel stove enclosed in fly screen." The toilet’s are at the back of your tram, will you be alright now? Nothing else you want, is there?"
“No thanks, this will be fine.” I replied glancing around.
“Well if you want anything just call me, I live in the shop with my husband Harold.” She told me as she about turned and started back to the shop.
“Thanks a lot and goodnight.”
And so started my first night at Lightning Ridge.
this is the part one part two will be here next week
This is a book I started writing years ago which I will be adding too every week chapter by chapter…hope you like it